The ongoing Battle of Aleppo in Syria is a painful reminder that revolution is easy to conceptualize but hard to achieve in modern society. Syria has become the black hole of the Middle East, where such a dense mixture of cultures and religious sects has made escaping the region’s influence near impossible. Much of the fire that sparked the Arab Spring is now reduced to cinders, and Syrian opposition’s problem with keeping their front legitimate suggests that a stalemate is sure to ensue for years to come.
There are three tiers to the Syrian power struggle: the first is the clash between the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian army. Second includes the area’s regional interests, such as those countries taking Syrian refugees (Jordan and Turkey) and those countries with ethno-religious concerns, like Israel and Iran. Lastly, the tertiary battle between the West and the East as a whole, the U.S. and Russia, puts Syria as the focal point of foreign interference in the region. Russia, along with its neighbor China, has vetoed Security Council resolutions three separate times.
Although Russia claims to be committed to stabilizing the region, they are not willing to commit to Assad’s government in its entirety. Russia has expressed dismay towards U.S. support of the opposition in Syria but does not show confidence that Assad’s current Alawis-majority government can regain the trust of its scores of Sunni, Kurdish and Christian people.
The hesitance towards Syria and Iran’s nuclear enrichment programs have been branded as Western policy because Russia has been helping Syria’s closest ally, Iran, develop nuclear facilities since the end of the Iraq-Iran War in the ’80s. With all the uncertainty surrounding Syria, one thing remains certain: out of all the countries that played a role in the Arab Spring, Syria will play the most important role in a realignment of political allies throughout the Middle East.
The choice to veto the UN Security Council’s resolutions proves that Russia will work with the U.S. diplomatically but does not want our presence to grow too large in the Middle East. With heavy U.S. involvement in the Middle East over the past decade and our close alliance with Israel, we have already made a major presence against many native citizen’s protests.
This is a pivotal time for Russia to scratch Syria’s, or more likely Iran’s, back. A culture between the West and the East is starting to form while Europe has its own fiscal crises that they’re dealing with. With Russia’s and especially China’s economy growing at unprecedented rates, U.S. presence in the Middle East is increasingly unwelcome amongst Syria’s Asian neighbors.
Nick Bell is a media production senior and may be reached at email@example.com.